November 02, 2010

To Operate Or Not To Operate?

I just got back from my appointment with the orthopedic surgeon and to make a long story short the decision to operate or not has been left up to me. Being the fortunate Canadian that I am there would be no financial aspect to deal with, which just makes this decision that much harder to process.
I was told straight up to not get my hopes up about running for at least 12+ weeks...doesn't he know I have a 100 Mile race to defend in January! Either way I'm going to Hawaii, but it's looking more and more like I'll be a spectator/volunteer this time around.

The pros and cons of both options were fed to me and without going into full details here are the relevant points that struck home.

Surgery
-Potential to heal quicker and stronger
-Potential for numerous things to go wrong during surgery, including shattering the bone in which case I'd never run again

Non-Surgery
-Most likely longer to heal
-Potential to heal incorrectly and need surgery anyways in six to eight weeks
-No chance of messing things up any further, simply have to hope for the best during next six weeks

On top of this my own intuition was screaming at me throughout the entire process NOT to agree to the surgery on the spot. My long drive home, followed by a few phone calls from friends who have gone through similar has since solidified my decision to let this thing heal naturally.

If all goes well I'll be off for a few months but none the worse for wear on the other side of this. There are simply too many potential complications that can arise from surgery, as I saw first hand through my ex's post surgery staph infection earlier this year. Worst case scenario is that I am forced into surgery two months from now, verses worst case surgery scenario is that I never run again...seems like a damn easy decision to make when it gets put down like that.

Thankfully I have a waterproof cast, so it's off to the pool for me starting tomorrow! Oh yeah, and I've modified my crutches so that I don't have to compromise my coffee habit...
GR

14 comments:

nyanko said...

Totally bummed to hear about your break. Sounds like your making a good choice though. Heal well.

Scott said...

Hey Gary, crappy news about the pin. Surgery should always be a last resort. Your body is built to heal (if you listen to it Gary... are you?) and if you absolutely need surgery, well, at least you've exhausted all other options first. Good call.
Hope you heal well, post many exhilarating blogs about walking in the pool and don't itch too bad (sorry).

Holly Vipond said...

I agree... the "never run again" part would be the deciding factor! Still, that's brutal, just when you were about to start gearing up again. Rest up... and yell if you need anything that I can help with. :)

Turtlepace said...

Bummer! I think I would have chosen surgery (coming from somebody that fell and messed up her ankle, but didn't break it, no paid rehab here, surgery would have been paid for, so here I am, still hobbling about, 10 weeks later...)
But your choice makes absolute sense and seems to be the sensible way. Now all you need is patience.

wiglebot said...

I broke my foot and it healed well in a cast.
I had a few clean breaks. The worst part was wrecking my bike with the cast and breaking the cast off my foot. This pulled my Achilles tendon and that took a long time to heal,
Take care.

Derrick said...

Good call Gary. I think you made the right choice. The body is an amazing thing.

I broke my ankle on a trail run 5 years ago. The surgeon encouraged me to have surgery and told me what they 'could' do (ie. pins and screws). He actually seemed excited about this. I then asked if it was really necessary. He replied 50/50, but it was my call and no guarantees how much running I'd be able to do either way. It puts you in a volunterable position not knowing what is best and having to make a decision. Luckily, there was a fit looking intern there who I asked a few question once the surgeon had left the room, but mainly being if it was his leg, would he have the surgery. His reply was no. So I didn't. And no regrets.

The doctor told me I'd be in a cast 8-10wks, but I'd healed enough after 5wks that I walked out of the hospital without a cast (or shoe as I thought I still had another month or so to go). I attribute the quick healing to staying active. I did a lot of crutch running (hop, hop, crutch) and pool running. I also biked a bit. I was also dilegent about doing isometrics as I didn't want my calf to atrophy too much. I'm convinced that both of these lead to a quick and full recovery.

Once out of the cast, it didn't take long to gradually be back to running more. 1 month after the cast was off I ran a snowshoe race. Snowshoe running was good as it disipated the impact of running a bit more.

I found it very motivating and encouraging to read how others had recovered from similiar injuries, so hope this helps.

Oh yeah, this break was BEFORE I started doing 100milers and 20hour weeks of running in training.

Stay positive and be active. You'll bounce back well.

Derrick said...

Good call Gary. I think you made the right choice. The body is an amazing thing.

I broke my ankle on a trail run 5 years ago. The surgeon encouraged me to have surgery and told me what they 'could' do (ie. pins and screws). He actually seemed excited about this. I then asked if it was really necessary. He replied 50/50, but it was my call and no guarantees how much running I'd be able to do either way. It puts you in a volunterable position not knowing what is best and having to make a decision. Luckily, there was a fit looking intern there who I asked a few question once the surgeon had left the room, but mainly being if it was his leg, would he have the surgery. His reply was no. So I didn't. And no regrets.

The doctor told me I'd be in a cast 8-10wks, but I'd healed enough after 5wks that I walked out of the hospital without a cast (or shoe as I thought I still had another month or so to go). I attribute the quick healing to staying active. I did a lot of crutch running (hop, hop, crutch) and pool running. I also biked a bit. I was also dilegent about doing isometrics as I didn't want my calf to atrophy too much. I'm convinced that both of these lead to a quick and full recovery.

Once out of the cast, it didn't take long to gradually be back to running more. 1 month after the cast was off I ran a snowshoe race. Snowshoe running was good as it disipated the impact of running a bit more.

I found it very motivating and encouraging to read how others had recovered from similiar injuries, so hope this helps.

Oh yeah, this break was BEFORE I started doing 100milers and 20hour weeks of running in training.

Stay positive and be active. You'll bounce back well.

Boris Terzic said...

Wow really sucks, good luck with your recovery.

Ultra Llama said...

dude! what happened?

Kat said...

Sending positive healing vibes your way.

I agree the human body is designed to heal itself - especially humans who are healthy and active.

Sean said...

Gary, very sorry to hear about your injury. I can't fathom not being able to run for months.

I'm not saying I disagree with people's opinion that the body is meant to heal on it's own, but I would like to add a different perspective.

Years ago I went over on my ankle and broke it very badly. Don't want to gross anyone out, but my foot basically stuck to the side of my leg and surgery was the only remedy. The first surgery put everything back in place, including 3 pins to hold everything together. The second surgery, several months later, removed all the pins. Blah blah blah.... the natural healing process was aided by modern medicine.

These days I'm fully able to run KneeKnacker and other technical ultra's with no ill effects, albeit not at your kind of break-neck speeds.

My question is, have you got a second opinion about whether or not the surgery could really leave you unable to run? I find that unlikely. If they did do something wrong, wouldn't your body still "heal naturally"? ;)

Anyway.... I feel for ya brother. Sure sucks.

Good luck.

garobbins said...

Yeah I've definitely felt right about my decision since the second I made it. Hopefully in six weeks I get good news to confirm that this was indeed the right choice.

GR

Vava said...

Wishing you a speedy recovery! Someday you will simply look back at this as a temporary setback, though right now it's a pain in the ass. Good luck!

Leslie said...

Just catching up GR. Man, that sucks.
Yes it does. So, allow yourself a few weeks of pity beers, a Vacay in Banff and then focus that tough mental strength of yours on healing, healing, healing. See you in Banff!